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How does Charles Dickens reveal his attitude toward Victorian customs of crime and punishment in the novel Great Expectations?

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Introduction

How does Charles Dickens reveal his attitude toward Victorian customs of crime and punishment in the novel Great Expectations? During the novel called Great Expectations, Charles Dickens makes it obvious to us how he feels about crime and punishment in the Victorian era. This essay will examine some of the ways he expresses his feelings and makes his attitude clear. The first way that Dickens reveals part of his attitude is by the words and phrases he uses to describe the escaped convict. To show the readers that the man he is describing is an escaped convict, Dickens uses such words and phrases such as: "A fearful man, all in course grey, with a great iron on his leg. A man with no hat, and with broken shoes," (page 6) Dickens is trying to point out that he feels the treatment of prisoners is unfair. ...read more.

Middle

Dickens's description of the capture of the two convicts again shows his attitude of Victorian crime and punishment. As I have mentioned before, each prisoner had to wear an iron on his leg. As well as the iron leg: "Both were bleeding and panting and execrating and struggling" and "seemed to be bruised and torn all over. He could not so much as get his breath to speak," (Page 35 and 36) These two extracts from the book both show that the treatment was horrendous. Dickens mentions blood, bruising, etc, which paints a picture in the readers mind and makes them feel how poor the handling of criminals actually was. On addition to this, Dickens says that each prisoner had to stop and rest. This adds to the point that Dickens tells us, which is that the treatment of criminals was appalling. Compared to nowadays, there is a clear difference. ...read more.

Conclusion

Compeyson was treated better than Magwitch because of his wealth and because he was more posh than Magwitch. Compeyson was given a lighter sentence than Magwitch for committing the same crime. Surely, if two people commit the same crime they should receive the same sentence. But in this case hey don't and therefore the law has treated Magwitch unfairly. My final point is when Magwitch comes to trial. Once again the law is unduly harsh due to the punishment not fitting the crime. In Great Expectations Dickens makes his point clear by having 32 people receiving the same punishment for different crimes. As well as this, he tells us all 32 people were told at the same time. This is again unfair to prisoners. Overall, Dickens has made it obviously clear to us his attitude towards crime and punishment I the Victorian era. He feels that it is very unfair and unjust due to the above reasons. I think that if Dickens could see the treatment of prisoners today he would be much more satisfied. ...read more.

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